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Descriptive Epidemiological Analysis of Depression in Adolescence

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Descriptive Epidemiological Analysis of Depression in Adolescence.

Problem Definition

Major depression is a common mental disorder affecting adolescents in the United States. A major depressive episode is defined as a period of two weeks or longer during which there is either depressed mood or loss of interest or pleasure, and at least four other symptoms that reflect a change in functioning, such as problems with sleep, eating, energy, concentration, and self-image (The National Institute of Mental Health, 2015). For some individuals, major depression can result in severe impairments that interfere with or limit one’s ability to carry out major life activities. In 2015, an estimated 3 million adolescents aged 12 to 17 in the United States had at least one major depressive episode in the past year. This number represented 12.5% of the U.S. population aged 12 to 17 (The National Institute of Mental Health, 2015). The suicide rate among teenage girls reached an all-time high in 2015, according to a recent analysis by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The analysis found an increase in teen suicides across the board between 2007 and 2015. The suicide rate increased 31% for teen boys and doubled for teen girls during this time period (Hurley, 2017).

Description of Agent

Biochemical factors, genetic factors, sleep disorders, serious illness, abuse, lack of social support, major life events, substance abuse, and medications are all factors that can lead to Depression (The Healthline Editorial Team, 2016). Depression is a type of mood disorder that some believe is triggered when neurotransmitters, chemical messengers that help the brain communicate with other parts of the body, in the brain are out of balance (The Healthline Editorial Team, 2016). These chemicals help regulate many physiological functions. Low levels of neurotransmitters may play a role in why some people are more susceptible to depression, including serotonin, norepinephrine, dopamine (The Healthline Editorial Team, 2016). Having an immediate family member with depression or a mood disorder can also increase your risk for depression. However, depression can occur in people with no family history, which is why some scientists believe it can be a product of both genes and life experiences. The pain and stress that come with certain conditions can take a toll on a person’s mental state. Many chronic conditions are linked to higher rates of depression. Women are twice as likely to have depression as men, but this may be due to the fact that more women seek treatment for their symptoms than men (The Healthline Editorial Team, 2016). Some believe depression can be caused by hormonal changes throughout life. Prolonged social isolation and having few friends or supportive relationships is a common source of depression. Feelings of exclusion or loneliness can bring on an episode in people who are prone to mood disorders. The death of a loved one is certainly a major life event. Great sadness is a major part of the grieving process. Some people will feel better in a matter of months, but others experience more serious, long-term periods of depression(The Healthline Editorial Team, 2016). The Pediatrics study researchers suggested that adolescent girls may be more exposed to risk factors. They point to research that indicates that cyber-bullying is far more prevalent among girls than boys. Some studies show that girls use mobile phones with texting applications more frequently and intensively. And problematic mobile phone use in this age group has been linked to depressed mood (Schrobsdorff, 2016).

Description of Condition

Depression is a mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest. Also called major depressive disorder or clinical depression, it affects how people feel, think and behave and can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems. People with depression may have trouble doing normal day-to-day activities, and sometimes may feel as if life isn't worth living. (Mayo Clinic, 2017). In younger children, symptoms of depression may include sadness, irritability, clinginess, worry, aches and pains, refusing to go to school, or being underweight. In teens, symptoms may include sadness, irritability, feeling negative and worthless, anger, poor performance or poor attendance at school, feeling misunderstood and extremely sensitive, using recreational drugs or alcohol, eating or sleeping too much, self-harm, loss of interest in normal activities, and avoidance of social interaction (Mayo Clinic, 2017).

Description of Host Characteristics

Current evidence shows that half of the lifetime diagnosable mental health disorders begin by the age of 14 years, which increases to three fourths by 24 years of age. Mental health literacy in adolescents is important for early identification and intervention of mental health issues. Early intervention can alter the developmental trajectory of mental illnesses and lead to improved outcomes. Early help seeking prevents adverse social, educational and vocational outcomes in those with mental illness. However, the number of adolescents who seek help for mental health related issues remain unsatisfactory. In the Australian National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing of 2007 in young people aged between 16 and 24 years, only 32% of those with anxiety disorders, 49% of those with affective disorders, and 11% of those with substance use disorders had sought professional help during the previous 12 months. (Attygalle, Perera, Jayamanne, 2017). Fifteen percent of high school students in America have seriously considered suicide, and 7% have attempted to take their own life. Mental health disorders among children and adolescents can lead to school failure, alcohol or other drug abuse, family discord, violence, and suicide (Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, 2014).

Table 1- Prevalence by sex, age, and race

Table 1 (above) shows that the higher rates of depression have been found in women over men. The highest rates start showing at age 16 for all US adolescents, while White and Hispanic adolescence showed higher rates than other races.

Table 2-

Above is another chart showing the prevalence in U.S. Adolescents by gender, age, and race.

Description of Environmental Attributes

There are higher rates in urban rather than rural areas but not a strong effect for social class. Continuously married and never married people had the lowest rate, and divorced people the highest.



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